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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Online vs the local store,,,
Old 01-08-2017   #1
Bill Pierce
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Online vs the local store,,,

I recently got into a conversation with several photographers about buying online versus buying at the local camera store. The first topic that came up was service. Obviously, you’re not going to get a lot of user feedback and detailed information buying on the internet. When I first came to NYC, Gene Smith and Robert Mottar took me to Royaltone, a rather small store in the West 20’s. Ernst Haas was at the counter checking some of his color slides that Royaltone had just gotten back from Kodak. You got the feeling that this was a store with a rather knowledgable set of customers. In fact, it was THE store, as much camera club and camera college as retail outlet. Clerks and customers pooled information on what was working and what wasn’t for a group of photographers with pretty high standards. Royaltone is long gone, but there are other stores that provide user feedback along with the gear. FotoCare isn’t far from where Royaltone was in a neighborhood once called the “photo district.” They sell equipment; they rent equipment; they have a small auditorium where folks give presentations; they hang photo exhibitions on their walls. And, between the customers and the clerks, they are a hands on source of what works (and how it works) and what doesn’t work. Certainly, if there is a retail store near you, you should investigate it and see if it’s a good one.

The one other advantage that retail stores have over internet stores is a staff that you get to know, actual humans that can do things that aren’t on an internet check list. Once, when I was doing a story in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Royaltone had a specialty lens located, sent to a repair shop and modified to fit the camera bodies I was using and shipped to Canada. That involved three different organizations and a lot of time and effort. And they didn’t bill me until I got back. When the Leica M8 first came out, the first one I received was defective. Leitz would have insisted on shipping it to Germany for repair and it probably would not be returned for several months. I do not know how they did it, but FotoCare returned it and gave me another from their stock. It also turned out to be defective. They returned it and gave me a new one that worked and was the beginning of my taking digital seriously. Flesh and blood people work outside the barrel, and that is often very valuable

The second topic that came up was price. Like it or not, this is an important consideration. No doubt that the very high volume of online sales from some of the big folks at places like Amazon and B&H allow them to sell at a lower profit margin and still do well. However, don’t think that all on line stores are cheaper than your local store. It’s often not so; check it out. However, absorbing credit card charges and shipping charges can really hurt small stores and cut their profit margin when you are not buying “in person.” This seems to a big concern among merchants I’ve talked to. Picking up your goodies “in store” and paying by check don’t seem too heavy a price for feedback and information. It will help your store survive. (Paying for shipping and paying a monthly bill by check don’t seem too heavy a price when it’s necessary.)

All this presumes that there is a good store that is convenient to you. This isn’t always true. Internet sales are not only convenient, but, for some folks, an absolutely necessity and a blessing. That situation will increase as more conventional retail stores feel the internet pressure and close for good. While I think the personalized services a conventional retail camera store can provide are exceptionally valuable, I sometimes think I am looking at the last generation of such stores.

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Old 01-08-2017   #2
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Such stores are already just about gone around here.

The last diverse, full service photography store within a 20 mile radius closed last October. Now going to a 'local' store worth shopping at means a 100 mile round trip drive to San Francisco at the least.
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Old 01-08-2017   #3
zuiko85
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So right. One of the things I missed moving out of Chicago to the great north woods was camera stores. Real people. Last real store I got to visit was Blue Moon Camera in Portland Oregon, a 120 mile drive one way. Not a digital camera in sight but lots of film, paper and chemicals. Kind of a unique little place with a very friendly and knowledgeable staff. And, I could buy a couple of rolls of Minox 8X11 B&W film (I'll reload the cartridges many times) probably the only camera store in North America that sells this film. Otherwise, as you noted, I'm forced to deal with online retailers due to my location.
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Old 01-08-2017   #4
Bill Clark
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Like the camera store business model of selling goods, I worked in an industry that mirrors the changes that have gone on for quite sometime selling photography products. Since I have first hand knowledge, let me explain what has taken place in the hardware industry.

Here in Minneapolis, I was a sales rep for products sold to hardware and home center stores. We had ten home office accounts of chains located here that I would call on. Each home office were responsible for products carried in about 1000 stores. So I had potential, if I sold all home office folks, around 10000 stores to carry products from factories I represented.

Nine of the home office locations are gone, out of business. Since I worked on straight commission, I was getting squeezed out of a job.

The business model used by this industry didn't work anymore.

Fewer customers but the ones left are large and hold a big hammer over the vendors heads. How to deal with that scenario, the vendors consolidate to have a big hammer in dealing with the few large customers. The small ones wither and die.

For my last 15 years I switched into professional photography. And that industry has seen quite a few changes. There are still two camera stores here, hanging on I guess.

Who would ever thought Sears would be struggling and recently sold the Craftsman line of products to Stanley-Black & Decker.
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Old 01-08-2017   #5
zuiko85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Such stores are already just about gone around here.

The last diverse, full service photography store within a 20 mile radius closed last October. Now going to a 'local' store worth shopping at means a 100 mile round trip drive to San Francisco at the least.

Same here Godfrey, about a 120 mile round trip to Seattle and I'd rather take a beating than go any where on I-5. From Lynnwood to south of Olympia it's often just a 100 mile long parking lot. I take it when I have to go to Canada but I'm on the road by 5 AM and past Seattle by 6:20.
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Old 01-08-2017   #6
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Just so happens the other evening I picked up a copy of Our State magazine which this month is dedicated to photography. Over the holidays I was gifted a Nicca 3-S that has had issues with the shutter capping. I had planned on sending the camera to Youxin Ye but looking through the issue it so happens there is a man named Ken Toda about 30 mins. from my home who repairs vintage camera's.

You just never know who might be living in your back yard. It will be nice to drive over to hand off my camera than to box & ship it off. Here is a link about him.

http://www.filmfotoforever.com/repairs/
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Old 01-08-2017   #7
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Thanks for the link.

I book marked it!
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Old 01-08-2017   #8
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I live in a small rural town in central Washington State, east of the Cascade Mountains. When I came here, 33 years ago, we had a small photography store here, but it is long gone. Now, I can go 120 miles east, to the excellent Camera Corral in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, or I can go about 200 miles west to Seattle. In fact, I can order online from Seattle.

I still haven't gone digital, but if I were to do so, I would definitely go to one of these stores to help me get started in digital photography. They could help me get a new camera set to function the way I want it, at least to start out, and I could gradually learn the rest from there.

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Old 01-08-2017   #9
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My local camera shop has been gone for probably 7 or 8 years now...they were in business for over 50 years..
There were a great group of guys working in there..all pros and great at their jobs..
I never imagined they would go put of business until the last year or so..when the writing was on the wall...
Boy do I miss em...an island of commonality among a plethora of nothingness...
A cell phone shop took their place...go figure..it went out of business too..
And..those guys were always gifting me stuff..I remember they just gave me a 3x4 Speed Graphic one day..they said..do you want it..? It was a whole kit..I said yes..and ..and thank you!
Amazon is a great way to shop these days..but..there is nothing like that shop anymore..the community of it..maybe 25 miles away in Hartford there is still a place or 2 left...maybe..
But I haven't checked in many years now..
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Old 01-08-2017   #10
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Fortunately I live in a location where the availability of photo equipment and service is very much alive... The local mom & pop photo shop gets all my development and special print work (and they always show their appreciation)... the large camera chains are great for large ticket items, and the used camera shops are a gold mine of accessories and information. I only shop the internet when the product is not available locally or the local price is obscene (recently purchased a domestically made item that was 1/2 the price from the USA including delivery, which only took four days... but only after visiting the local service center to talk to one of the technicians).

A certain amount of my available financial reserves are managed in USD via a global payment system, which unfortunately is not widely used here and tends to work better with internet purchases... so that's a small factor.

As a side note: I tend to read e-books for convenience and lack of book shelf space... I have noticed that for an increasing number of books, the e-version is more expensive than the physical copy particularly if you are not buying a best seller... support your local library ; )
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Old 01-08-2017   #11
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My nearest store is 45 miles away and are the only Leica dealer other than San Francisco. I took my M9 in to have the sensor cleaned and the clerk didn't even know what it was, I said it was a Leica, he thought it a film camera, he was holding it. So when it comes back a month and a week later after two phone calls, it was just as dirty as when I brought it in, they recleaned it and got it about 50% clean. Suffice to say I'll not be back. They are an interstate chain. Lots of bags and tripods and shelves full of cameras and lenses but no knowledge.
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Old 01-08-2017   #12
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An interesting topic since I work at an independent camera store in my city.
We are the last of what was once many camera stores in the city.
There are other stores around, all about 20-30 miles away.
I have learned a lot about how the photo industry operates from working here.
Traditional small business photo stores have to adapt to the changing times.
Offering services and products that set you apart from the competition.

Most pricing is set by MAP, so a Nikon D810 is going to be the same price at our store vs BH Amazon ETC.
It can come down to sales tax vs shipping for some customers.
But most of the time customers value the time spent working on problem solving their issue or helping them with a purchase that sales tax isn't an issue when making a purchase.
And that person to person experience is something most people really enjoy.
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Old 01-08-2017   #13
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I live near downtown Seattle and there are many camera stores within a 30 minute drive of me, however of those, one is full of really cantankerous old farts who are extremely rude and only want to sell you over priced filters and MAC warranties and their Yelp rating and reviews reflect that, one is full of people who dont know anything about the products they are selling but has background papers I constantly need, and one is full of higher end gear and are snobbish but have good selection of rentals. Another is quite nice but has an awful parking situation. No, I save my purchasing for online because if I want to ask questions then the internet is a good place to find answers, if I want someone to look down on me because I wont buy the $85 no name ProMaster filter then I go to a local store.

In fact just today I made a 300 dollar purchase for some needed gear, B&H not only had the best price, but free shipping and I didnt have to get the pitch for accessories I dont want.
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Old 01-08-2017   #14
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Burlington Camera and Halton Camera Exchange those are two local stores for me in GTA who are better comparing on-line. I have cameras, lenses from them, advice, service and high quality prints.
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Old 01-08-2017   #15
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I live within 30 miles of two college towns. Both communities have stores that stock some film, paper, and developer. One also has a decent selection of used cameras and lenses. I buy what I can from them, including new digital stuff for work. But they don't carry as much as they used to because the demand isn't there. When I need items they don't carry - Alford warmtone RC paper, metol, etc., then it's B&H. I don't get the advice and experience there, but when the package arrives, I can develop film and make prints.
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Old 01-08-2017   #16
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Chicago had more stores than I could count. All but a few have gone. Even Calumet was sold, reopened, and then closed. I get online ads from them.

The real surprise was a small shop in Lyons that was well hidden and even I never never know about. They rented a space in La Grange and recently a smaller space down the street. But they are still open.

The big box is killing retail and internet is killing big box. Macys is closing 100 stores. The anchor stores in the malls are closing. The rest of the mall will surely follow. After all, if they can not fill the space, they need to raise rent and drive the smaller stores out.

I suggest you invest in UPS, Fed Express, or USPS or Amazon.

Central Camera survives because of a local college. Same with a store in Glen Ellyn.
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Old 01-08-2017   #17
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Unfortunately there are no more camera stores (I mean the real ones), near me. I miss them. Sometimes just stopping by. Also I could not pull off the sometimes absurd levels of GAS that happens now with online stores. Anyway a time and space that is becoming part of my past.
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Old 01-08-2017   #18
dmc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
"Picking up your goodies “in store” and paying by check don’t seem too heavy a price for feedback and information. It will help your store survive. (Paying for shipping and paying a monthly bill by check don’t seem too heavy a price when it’s necessary.)



Your thoughts?

I read your post with great interest and have thought much the same, with very mixed feelings. I have a very good local store I deal with on a regular basis, but admit I do a lot of research on-line prior to entering the store, as many of the young people working there are less than knowledgeable about the specifics of what I am looking for. In fairness, there is so much more to know today than 40 years ago. But as my grandson would say, "Dude, what's a check?" I haven't used a cheque in years. 😎



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Old 01-08-2017   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
Chicago had more stores than I could count. All but a few have gone. Even Calumet was sold, reopened, and then closed. I get online ads from them.
I lived in Chicago in the 70's and for a couple of years worked at Altman's, right up to the time Ralph sold out and closed the store. That was in May 75 and a very sad day. Even so, there were many other stores, Wolk's, Bass, and Shutan are some I remember. I got a job at a hole in the wall store called Camera Exchange on Dearborn St. They were owned by The Roston family who also owned Roscor who just closed up a about three years ago. There were so many camera stores in the Loop it could take half a day just to visit each one for 15 minutes or so. Plus lots of neighbor stores. So sad, all gone except for Central.

Altman's was fantastic. Ralph Altman just hated shyster NY dealers who employed all kinds of scams on unsuspecting customers. Bait and switch and stripping out included in the box items to sell separately were just the tip of the berg. Back, long before the internet they could get away with this crap a lot easier.
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Old 01-08-2017   #20
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Samy's camera in Pasadena in 30 miles one way and Freestyle in Santa Fe Springs a bit further...if I'm ever in the area I do stop by...
Last time I stopped at Samy's I bought a tripod QR mount (decent price & exactly what I wanted) and a camera strap (not a bad price but not exactly what I wanted) I bought the strap since I was there. Had I been shopping on-line I would have purchased the exact strap I wanted...
Now, years ago when I was putting together a 4x5 kit from Calumet Camera I had a problem with a wide angle bellows while on location...I had to reglue one edge in order to continue shooting...I returned it to them since it had a Lifetime warranty, they replaced it with a better designed bellows but wanted to charge me for it since I altered the first one...I explained what I had to do and that they wouldn't have been able to replace the faulty one overnight so I could continue shooting...I had to corner the store manager at a local convention and speak loud enough that I caught his attention as to
my situation and his store policy...he confirmed that the part should be under warranty only after my rant...I've never been question about faulty gear by KEH when dealing with them by phone or on-line...
I guess we all have different circumstance whether it's Brick & Mortar or Internet...
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Old 01-08-2017   #21
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I worked in a camera store when I was a younger lad. It was a great experience, a learning experience, and I can tell you there's quite a community that forms around a good camera store. Fast forward to now..... all gone. I'm not terribly happy with the direction the world has taken. My community is now RFF!!!

Before my local (recent) camera store closed. I tried to frequent and buy there as much as possible. I was frank with the owner and other customers.....I always attempt to support a local business whenever it is within my means (that extends beyond camera stores BTW). We all know that it comes down to price point among other things. I will pay a premium for my local store that has personal attention and other benefits. There is a limit to the premium. I believe my local camera store owner did his best to address that, and we both know its not our relationship that led to the demise of the business. It was interesting getting down to the specific nitty-gritty of just what my economic position is (was).

But, I wish we had a camera store. One with film and chemistry, a selection of used gear, some new stuff of interest, a customer base of other committed photographers. But I'm dreaming. That's in the past and will not likely come back.
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Old 01-08-2017   #22
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I've wanted to support my local store, but after they didn't reward my support with decent service I only use them for small ticket items.
Seeing you asked, the guilty party was Samy's Camera in Los Angeles (Fairfax). I bought a Leica from them that needed warranty service (the sensor..) a few months later. How did they reward my loyalty? They wanted to charge me over $100 to ship the camera to Leica NJ for warranty repair. The store I bought it from. And I quote "why should we pay for shipping?"
I told them in no uncertain terms that I'd be making all my future purchases from B&H and save on tax.
Anyway, I took the Leica to the recently opened LeicaStore in west LA, where they took care of everything including shipping. So there you have it. Brick and mortar stores still need to earn our business.
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Old 01-08-2017   #23
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The store in my city (yes there's only one on 67K inhabitants) is good at passport photos, printing, selling brands that are heavily pushed by their dealerships (Panasonic, Fuji) and selling picture frames and canvasses. You can't talk camera there, they simply don't know anything outside consumer market or outside what their brands sales representative told them. Hardly any historical knowledge either, while they've had the shop for at least 2 decades. To me that spells they are sellers but no photographers.

The next city (30km) is Groningen, which is 150K inhabitants. Has two specialty stores where they know their stuff. The small one in city center has decent occasions but on new gear is understocked due to size, the bigger pro one (only selling current state of the art press gear, no occasions etc) is on the outskirts and easily accessible by car but I don't drive...

To me it would be bliss to have multiple shops with knowledgable folk in the city where I live!
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Old 01-09-2017   #24
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The days of local camera shops are pretty much gone in small to medium sized cities. There were two stores in my city when I moved here forty years ago, both very good shops with knowledgeable staff. They're both long gone.

Truthfully, I don't really miss them. Before the last store closed, it had already mostly moved away from photography and into decorative home furnishings. Their photo section was about the same as the local Target or Walmart and there was no one on staff with any real photo expertise. I had stopped shopping there long ago.

I prefer shopping online from companies like Amazon and B&H. I can get information on products by researching websites for features, reviews and opinions from forums. Furthermore, I can do this without being subjected to obnoxious people with their cell phones and self-centered attitudes.
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Old 01-09-2017   #25
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There used to be a couple of places with the same owner within 11 miles from me that had everything (13 years ago). Now there is a small place for film developing and a small selection of film about 20 miles away, a guy who repairs cameras (including Leica!) 45 miles away, but the nearest shop for developer/film/paper etc would be 80 miles away. There might be others, but unless they have an online presence I won't know about them.

I've never found any of the advantages going to a store that people have mentioned. I went to the film developing desk in boots a few months ago, handed over a roll of 35mm and the girl asked me what it was :/
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Old 01-09-2017   #26
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Chicago has one general camera store left and Tamarkin for Leica products. But city sales tax is 10.25%. On a $7K Leica body, that's quite a premium for whatever benefits a physical shop offers. It's certainly enough to send me to B&H or Amazon. Although the latter recently started charging sales tax in IL.

The thing I feel bad about for shops is the likely percentage of customers who come in to handle cameras, knowing they will go home and order online.

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Old 01-09-2017   #27
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In Canada we have absurd taxes. I buy all my film from B&H, and delivery to me in Northern Ontario is 4 days. The saving cost on film is huge. For eg; a roll of 120 Ektar in Canada is around $19.99 Can plus shipping. Out of New York with exchange for under $8.00 each. I always spend over their min to get the free shipping. Recently on X series Fuji camera, even with the sale on; it was "way" cheaper to buy locally, and I get to study and feel the item.
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Old 01-09-2017   #28
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Ken Hansen's store on broadway, NYC, is closed long ago.
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Old 01-09-2017   #29
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There is still a small photoshop/photographer a couple km further but apart from a few generic things that's where the shop stops. If I go a few cities further then I can find a store where they have a few rolls of film and maybe a few behind the counter are knowledgable about one or two brands. If I need film, chemicals, several brands of cameras, rental and more then I need to go again a few cities further. And each time there is a single one around.

So it isn't impossible but when you work and your free time only overlap the shop opening times for a couple of hours on saturday afternoon then it gets hard. Certainly if you have to drive 3 times over to get what you want: first to order, then to go and discover it isn't in even if they told you it would be there and then again 3 months later to get your stuff. Compare that to order online and having it delivered a couple days later.
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Old 01-09-2017   #30
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Old 01-09-2017   #31
Bill Pierce
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonhswebmaster View Post
Ken Hansen's store on broadway, NYC, is closed long ago.
It was the place. Is it true he opened a store or mail service in Florida when he left NY?
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Old 01-09-2017   #32
benlees
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Talking

Supported local today. Fixed my enlarger; haven't printed in years, so was eager to start. Got some Ilford product which was the same price as Freestyle et al. Except, of course, no shipping, no surprise fees, and no waiting! Can't get Arista locally, however, or other more interesting stuff, so online has its place.
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Old 01-09-2017   #33
huddy
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I lost my local store two years ago so my closest local store is Precision camera in Austin. I don't go often, but I do by the occasional lens cleaning cloth or a few rolls of color film here and there as I want to shoot it.
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Old 01-09-2017   #34
nikonhswebmaster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
It was the place. Is it true he opened a store or mail service in Florida when he left NY?
He tried various locations, couldn't keep track of them, but he is back in the city, with a large eBay presence. http://stores.ebay.com/Ken-Hansen-Photographic

IMO, no store has ever equaled Ken's, at least in NYC.

There are some friendly, and knowledgeable, small stores, and the Leica store in SOHO is interesting, but still just a shadow of those years.

My comment was a meant in a tongue in cheek way, Ken is not all that is missing of course, Marty Forscher seems the greatest loss. Prices are good, but I just don't relate much to the current stores.
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Old 01-09-2017   #35
robert blu
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For what concerns cameras and lenses I'm very lucky compared to what I read in this thread: downtown Milan, 1/2 hr by train from where I live are at least 3 good shops + a Leica store (one of the shop is my reference point).
But when I need film I usually buy on line not because of the price but because easier to find the films I like, shops have not a large inventory.

So, at the end by now I'm lucky enough :-)

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Old 01-09-2017   #36
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I don't have any real choice. The nearest true camera shop is roughly 4hrs drive north, up on the mainland.

For me, though, its not much of a loss. I visit stores when I come across them when traveling, but I don't buy much these days as I shoot digital and don't suffer from GAS, which is fortunate since I'm semi-retired on a somewhat limited income. It's the price of living where I only needed a long sleeve overshirt while wearing lightweight shorts this evening (Jan 9th) when I walked home from work.
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Old 01-09-2017   #37
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What local camera store? I purchased from the one 45 minutes away till it was gone, then purchased from the one an hour and fifteen minutes away till it was gone (I had the college I worked for at the time buy out all their used darkroom stock) and purchased from any other local-ish store (that I could drive to and from in less than most of a day) till there was only one left who can't sell me what I use for less than I can get it delivered to my door. I appreciate buying local- and eat 75% locally grown food, drink 50% locally distilled or brewed alcohol, and 99% locally roasted coffe - but can't sustain "locally"purchased supplies at my price plus a mark-up and gas money.

That ship has sailed for most all of us. Nice while it lasted, back when sales tax was less than shipping I was all over it. I purchased all the Insignia paper and Viradon toner for a huge number of edition prints for a big NYC gallery exhibit via the "local" Agfa rep and drove 2 hours each way to pick it up where Agfa could deliver it. I suspect if one is living outside of NYC or LA or another megalopolis/big city buying photographic supplies locally ended about six or seven years ago, for those of us in rural america it ended before the turn of the century.

I can drive an hour and forty minutes (one way) and buy only the basic supplies I might be able to use for more than I can have them delivered: single rolls of some 120 or 135 film, negative pages, B&W RC paper. My normal supplies come in from B&H, Sprint, Freestyle or Fotoimpex. If I had to purchase what I could buy via a car I'd be screwed. On foot, I'd have to be a painter. A nice thought, but not a viable means of working, and I doubt it ever will be again.

When I am in a city where I can purchase from a shop I do. Just bought some film when in Boston from an RFF supporter shop. Asked them for a recommendation for a lab to run color, and I will try them with that roll and some more when I get enough to justify mailing out color film. Us film shooters are few and far enough between that we can't support the small shops, and as much as I'd love to, I just can't afford to keep someone else in the green if it means I need to do without.
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Old 01-09-2017   #38
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Quote:
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Such stores are already just about gone around here.

The last diverse, full service photography store within a 20 mile radius closed last October. Now going to a 'local' store worth shopping at means a 100 mile round trip drive to San Francisco at the least.
Same here. The last store in this area that had a large variety of film gear, particularly rangefinders and so forth was Camera Center LLC which I worked for until it went out of business in December of 2007.

Any remaining ones or new ones (ie: Mark's, Norman's) has shifted over completely to new digital, with once in a blue moon a very small case of consignment items which are barely worth it (mostly 90s-ish consumer SLRs with third party lens).

One of the gripes my old coworkers would mention is that you would have some consumers come in to pick our brains as to what they needed, what was good, etc. But then they'd go off and get the closest thing they could thru Best Buy, Amazon, or in general one of the online shops. Most of this kind of advice only exists on forums like this one, or blogs/youtube, etc now days rather than in the shops.

We tried for the course of 2 years or so, to shift a lot of sales online, particularly with ebay and such, basically photographing everything quite well and having to stipulate some strict terms for international sales (Which was a good portion of it). It didn't help when eBay changed their feedback policy to not allow buyers to receive anything other than positive feedback. Or when a single dispute would cause a penalty just before the christmas seasons to limit you to sales no greater than 75% of your last 3 months (which is low sales in summer, and you can't make more than 75% of that for the winter months?)
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Old 01-09-2017   #39
dmc
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The store in my city (yes there's only one on 67K inhabitants) is good at passport photos, printing, selling brands that are heavily pushed by their dealerships (Panasonic, Fuji) and selling picture frames and canvasses. You can't talk camera there, they simply don't know anything outside consumer market or outside what their brands sales representative told them. Hardly any historical knowledge either, while they've had the shop for at least 2 decades. To me that spells they are sellers but no photographers.

The next city (30km) is Groningen, which is 150K inhabitants. Has two specialty stores where they know their stuff. The small one in city center has decent occasions but on new gear is understocked due to size, the bigger pro one (only selling current state of the art press gear, no occasions etc) is on the outskirts and easily accessible by car but I don't drive...

To me it would be bliss to have multiple shops with knowledgable folk in the city where I live!


Please enjoy the 30 Km trip. In my city (1.2 million) we have 3 dedicated photo shops. Only 1 is a full line, full service store. The next city with any photo store is 300 Km away, and the next one after that is 1,000 Km away. Thank god you live in holland and not western Canada. 😉


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Old 01-09-2017   #40
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I'd love to support the 2-3 local stores that offer basic 35/120 film types and developing chemicals/supplies, but their selection isn't very broad (or dependable... they'll often not have basic films like Tri-X in stock) and generally 50%-100% higher in price than online retailers like B&H.

In other words, I'm not going to pay $8 per roll of Tri-X (plus 8% sales tax) IF it's available locally when I can buy it at a significantly cheaper price, with no sales tax, guaranteed to be in stock, no need to drive 20-30 miles round-trip, and free shipping.
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